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Easter Bunny: Hopping Toward Extinction?

Group Presses Forward on Protection for Rare Southwestern Jackrabbit

Santa Fe, NM-April 21. WildEarth Guardians sent notice to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar that the organization will challenge Salazar’s refusal to protect (list) the white-sided jackrabbit under the Endangered Species Act. Last autumn, Salazar denied Guardians’ petition to list this jackrabbit as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Act. This rare rabbit numbers fewer than 100 in the United States, where it is limited to a swath of grasslands in New Mexico’s bootheel. The species also occurs in Mexico, where the Mexican government reports that it is rare and declining.

“The white-sided jackrabbit urgently needs protection under the Endangered Species Act. Without these safeguards, it will likely vanish from the U.S. and may become extinct altogether,” stated Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Easter provides a reminder that several imperiled rabbit species may be hopping toward extinction because they lack the federal shield the Endangered Species Act provides.” 

Guardians is raising awareness this Easter of the plight of imperiled rabbits in the U.S. The pygmy rabbit, a very small rabbit found in sagebrush steppe, has suffered extensive habitat loss. Guardians is supporting Western Watersheds Project’s efforts to protect this species. The New England cottontail is likewise imperiled, and the Endangered Small Mammal Conservation Fund has led conservation efforts for this rabbit. The New England cottontail is a candidate for Endangered Species Act listing, but the species will not receive its protections until formally listed under the law.

Easter eggs are in trouble, too. Guardians' efforts to address this problem are profiled in today’s issue of the New York Times titled Wildlife at Risk Face Long Line at U.S. Agency. Guardians points to a suite of endangered birds that are awaiting Endangered Species Act listing, including the mountain plover, lesser prairie-chicken, greater sage-grouse, Mono Basin sage-grouse, and Sprague’s pipit. While the plover is proposed for listing, these other birds are candidates. More than 250 species are on the candidate list, and the majority of them have awaited listing for more than 20 years.

“The Endangered Species Act has an A+ record in preventing extinction, but it doesn’t apply to species that aren’t listed under it,” stated Mark Salvo of WildEarth Guardians. “We risk losing a number of charismatic American birds due to delayed or denied protections. We urge the Obama administration to do some spring cleaning by moving these imperiled birds off of the candidate list and onto the protected species list.”

Spring into action the creatures of springtime!

For further information, including a copy of the legal notice submitted for the jackrabbit, please contact Nicole Rosmarino at nrosmarino@wildearthguardians.org, 505-699-7404 or Mark Salvo at msalvo@wildearthguardians.org, 503-757-4221 or visit www.wildearthguardians.org.


 

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